To launch our discussion of Thich Nhat Hahn’s book At Home in the World, Deb Koop gave us a brief summary of his life, from 1926 birth and childhood in war-torn Vietnam, where he became a Zen Buddhist monk. In a country repeatedly occupied or at war since his youth, he came to the U.S. in 1962, and became a friend of Martin Luther King, Jr., whose assassination threw him into depression.
He ultimately took asylum in France, where he established Plum Village, a community near Paris, to share his message of peace by teaching mindfulness, kindness, and compassion. In January, as we were hearing about him, he had returned to Vietnam to spend his final days. At this writing, he has rallied and remains at the root temple in Huế, Vietnam.
“My life is my teaching; my life is my message.”
The book Deb chose is one of 70 written by Thich Nhat Hahn, and Deb selected passages with stories or lessons to share with us. Rather than try to capture the stories, I jotted down messages that seemed particularly resonant to me that day. Please share your own thoughts by leaving a comment at the bottom of this post.
- “The practice of mindfulness is like a boat: as long as you stay in the boat, you won’t drown.”
- “You have to take action: Are you planting seeds of joy and peace?”
- “You don’t have to be religious, but you do have to be engaged.”
- “Nonviolence arises from compassion.”
- “To live in the present moment is the miracle.”
- “An old tree produces new flowers.” [he still has insights to share]
In keeping with the teaching that two minutes of silence can bring mindfulness, Deb closed her session with a still moment, two minutes of silence, bracketed by “mindfulness bells.”
Monday January 28, in the Classics in Religion series. This group is open to all and meets Mondays at 11 a.m. to Noon at the Penn Yan Public Library.
Presenter Deb Koop will focus our attention on the book At Home in the World: Stories and Essential Teachings from a Monk’s Life by Thich Nhat Hanh. The session will be a book review and discussion.
In this long-awaited collection, Zen master, peace activist, and Nobel Prize nominee Thich Nhat Hanh shares personal stories from his childhood in Vietnam, his life during war and exile, the founding of the Plum Village community in France, and his experiences traveling and teaching around the world. These stories, told with characteristic lightness and simplicity, reveal Thich Nhat Hanh’s most profound and essential teachings.
From the cover:
“Our true home is not an abstract idea. It is a solid reality that we can touch with our feet, our hands, and our mind in every moment. If we know this, then nobody can take away our true home. Even if people occupy our country or put us in prison, we still have our true home, and no one can ever take it away.
“You may wonder if the most wonderful moments of your life are already behind you. Or you may think the happiest moment of your life is still to come. But this, the present moment, is the moment of life we have been waiting for.
“Who among us has a true home? Who feels comfortable at home in their own country? I have a home, and I feel very comfortable in my home even though I have been exiled from my home country for almost forty years. My true home is not limited to a particular place or a time. My true home is the present moment, whatever is happening right here and right now.”